updated 3/17/2005 10:42:57 PM ET 2005-03-18T03:42:57

A quarter of American adults who have cell phones have used the devices' text-messaging features within the past month, a new study finds.

Usage correlates with age: 63 percent of cell phone users ages 18-27 have used text messaging compared with 31 percent for ages 28-39 and 7 percent for those over 60.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project also found that 28 percent of people who text message have received unsolicited commercial messages that way.

Text messaging allows cell phone users to receive and send short messages to other cell phone users or e-mail recipients. Services also are available to receive news alerts and other information through text messaging.

Also known as SMS, for Short Message Service, "texting" is highly popular in Europe and Asia but only starting to catch on in the United States.

The Pew study was based on a random telephone survey of 1,460 cell phone users Jan. 13-Feb. 9. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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